Capital City: Nassau
Official Language: English is the official language with Bahamian patois being widely spoken
Currency: Bahamian Dollar
Welcome to the paradisiacal expanse that is the Bahamas!
With more than 700 palm-fringed isles offering intimacy and a secluded retreat, the shallow sea around these islands with their turquoise and rose pink color-spans literally spells out the perfection of the word paradise. From ancient shipwrecks to astonishing coral reefs, colorful clapboard houses to the exotic birdsong in the backdrop, the Bahamas is all a tourist could ever dream of. Whether you plan to indulge in some wild watersports or try your luck at a round of golf, go hiking or birdwatching or if you’re keen to experience the legendary nightlife of the Bahamian bars and clubs, the Bahamas caters for just about every taste out there. Whatever you do, just remember to sample some of the fine seafood on offer from the numerous restaurants, and off course, wash it all down with some good old Bahamian Rum Cocktails.
Must see places in the Bahamas
The lighthouse at California Point has nothing to do with the Golden State in the US but is rather named after the one hundred year old wreck of the California which sits just off the coast. The lighthouse is now one of the most scenic tourist destinations in Aruba offering spectacular views of the island. The California Sand Dunes next to the lighthouse offer hours of family fun sand boarding or just running around on the dunes. The best time of the day to visit the lighthouse is at sunset to watch one of the most spectacular sunsets you will ever see. Don’t forget to watch for the green flash at the moment the sun sets.
The two islands of Inagua make up the southern-most part of the Bahamas archipelago. On offer here is the sight of the great Lake Windsor, the internationally important bird reserve with its 80,000 West Indian flamingos, the limestone caves and some astonishing scuba diving spots.
Garden of Groves
The eco-tourist park located in Freeport is where you’ll be able to see the alligators, exotic birds, 10,000 species of plant life, four waterfalls and an abundance of lakes.
Lucayan National Park
If you want to set your eyes on the largest underwater limestone cave system, head on over to the 40 acre park of Lucayan. You’ll have to be an experienced diver to see the sight with your own eyes, but for the regular folk there are various hiking trails that wind through the pine forest and leads up to Gold Rock Beach.
Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park
The very first land-and-sea-park in the world, this is still one of the best of its kind. Go on a scenic kayak ride and see the magnificent coral reefs and marine life that thrive in the park.
Arikok National Park
This stunning national park takes up almost twenty percent of the island of Aruba. The park offers many unique cultural, geological and historical sites as well as protecting the local flora and fauna. You can explore the park on your own or by guided tour. There are a number of old ruins in the park which attest to the history of Aruba from the native Indians through to the plantations that covered this part of the island. One of the most popular attractions here is the Natural Pool which is protected from the rough sea of this section of the coast by rocks. The pool is a perfect spot for swimming, snorkelling or diving off the rocks.
From breathtaking cliffs to coral reefs and serene beaches, Long Island is a place of amazing diversity in the Bahamas. Long Island is where you can find the deepest Blue Hole in the world, Dean’s Blue Hole. The very different coastlines on either side of the island is a result of The Tropic of Cancer running straight through the island, and as such makes the one side a lot wilder whereas the other side is more tranquil. Long Island is also home to the historic twin churches built in the 1800’s and then there’s the largest cave in the Bahamas to explore.
Andros is one of the most pristine and untouched places in the Bahamas, and measuring in at 6,000 square miles, it’s also the largest island in the Bahamas. On offer here are sights such as the natural creeks, forests filled with all kinds of birds, thick mangroves and the largely unexplored third biggest barrier at the Out Islands.
Located closest to the United States than any of the other Bahamian islands, Bimini is best known for its miles of pristine beaches. The historical complexity and the legendary Bimini Road (believed to be a remnant of the Lost City of Atlantis) makes Bimini one unmissable destination in the Bahamas.
Bask in the beauty of this 1780’s fort with its moat, cannons, hidden passageways and dark dungeons. It’s a great attraction that roams a little off the beaten path.
Bushiribana Gold Smelter Ruins
Aruba means “red gold” and the island did have a mini gold rush from around 1824. Small mines sprung up all along the coast and these eventually produced around three million pounds of gold ore. The gold has long since run out but you can now have fun exploring the ruins of the gold mines. The ruins are of historical interest to adults but kids will have hours of fun running around and climbing through the ruins.
There are no tour guides, maps or signs at the entrance to these caves. A small stand at the entrance holds flashlights for use inside the cave; it’s pretty dark in there so grab one. The caves consist of three chambers. The two larger chambers are easily accessible but the third does take some crawling to get to and is filled with harmless bats. The caves are filled with Amerindian petro glyphs (rock engravings) and contain large stalactites and stalagmites. Tours are offered from the Arikok visitors centre or with tour groups from Oranjestad if you want to know more about the interesting history of the caves. The natural lighting into parts of the caves provides for interesting photographs.
Things to do in the Bahamas
If you enjoy scuba diving then diving the wreck of the Antilla will be a highlight of your holiday. This German cargo ship was scuttled by her crew in 1939 to avoid her capture by Dutch Marines from Aruba. The Antilla is one of the Caribbean’s largest wrecks. Due to storm damage it is now considered unsafe to enter the wreck but it is now a truly beautiful reef to dive.
Visit the Port Lucaya Marketplace
Located in Freeport, the 12 acre shopping complex of Port Lucaya Marketplace boasts more than 60 shops, a dozen restaurants, 90 vendors, 2 dozen artists and hair braiders among the many sights.
A guided Jeep tour will take you to some of the more interesting parts of the island that are not accessible with a normal car such as Natural Pool.
Feast on seafood in Nassau
Take a dip at Blue Lagoon Island
If you’ve ever wanted to swim with sea lions and bottle-nosed dolphins, Blue Lagoon Island will make your dreams come true. The waist-high pools here allow you to interact with these gentle sea mammals while having an experience of a lifetime.
Pick the time right
Tourists visit the Bahamas from December to April
September through to May is the “freshest” time of the year in the Bahamas with temperature ranging between 21-24°C averages. The rest of the year sees warmer average temperatures of around 27-29°C. June to November is when hurricanes can be expected.
Did you know?
The Bahamas are best known for their history of Pirates and the fact that it’s now one of the best destinations to travel to in the Caribbean for a taste of paradise.
- Conch is a Bahamian favorite seafood dish that can be ordered ceviche-style or deep fried
- Rock lobster
- Land crabs
- Souse is a soup made of onions, water, lime juice, celery, peppers and meat
- Guava duff is a desert made with guava pulp and served with Switcha (a lemon, sugar and water/rum sauce
- Accept the “island time” that the Bahamians operate on and just go with the flow
- The locals in the Bahamas are very friendly, so to keep the peace it’s advisable to be hospitable and return greetings
- For health reasons, always stick to drinking only bottled water and make sure you take enough sunscreen with you on a trip to the Bahamas